Networking is relationship building and important to career and personal growth as a professional student. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Warm Calls – Make a list of all the people you know within the career field or industry. (This could also include anyone you know that works for a company that has a department within the company that fits your career field.) Start contacting these people first for introductions. Since these are people you know these are considered warm introductions. You already have a link to the connection, you just need the connection to be made through an introduction. You are also warming up to become a networking pro within your inner network.
- Cold Calls – This is where you identify employers that you have not established a contact with yet and place a call out to identify a contact name to begin the networking process. Make plans to visit this contact if they are available to meet. Be flexible in meeting times to fit their schedule.
Once contacts are identified this is a good time to do Informational Interviews. Approach the employer as “I am a student, can you help me?”, not as “I am a student looking for a job, do you have one?”
Additional ways to Network:
Approach or become a member of the following:
- Student Organizations – Being involved in student organizations will give you the chance to network with employers that come in to do guest speaking. Sometimes they work with the groups in other ways too so volunteering to help with a committee may give a better chance to get to know some of these people. These employers are creating visibility for a reason so approach them to see if you can schedule a time to visit or talk about the career field or industry.
- Professional Organizations – Employers typically send hiring managers to find out what the latest trends at association meetings and conferences. They also see who competition may be and what talent is present for purposes of recruiting future candidates. Professional organization meetings are where many employers obtain this kind of information so make a goal for yourself to find out when and where professional organization meetings are taking place and plan to attend for a quick “getting to know” you session with others attending. Your goal should be to collect business cards and to follow-up with them to conduct Informational Interviews. This can help develop a relationship further.